August 7, 2014 at 1:00 am

Arguments heard in Ohio, Ky., Tenn. same-sex cases

Attorneys divided on whether state, voters should decide issues

Hazel Park nurses April DeBoer, left, and Jayne Rowse want to marry and adopt each other's children. (The Detroit News)

Cincinnati— While the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati spent the most time Wednesday on Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban, the judges also heard arguments in five similar cases from three other states.

Here is an overview of the arguments made in those cases, from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee:

■Ohio — Obergefell et al v. Himes et al. and Henry et al v. Himes et. al: These two cases, argued at the same time, focused on getting recognition of same-sex marriages in the state. The Obergefell case seeks to allow same-sex couples to be listed as married on death certificates. The Henry case seeks to allow both birth parents to be listed on a birth certificate for the child of a same-sex couple.

State Solicitor Eric Murphy said now is not the time for the changes to the state’s existing same-sex marriage ban and any changes should be made through a vote of the people. The plaintiffs’ attorney, Alphonse Gerhardstein, said there is no time to wait. “I represent four couples, and their children deserve to have both of their parents and they deserve it today.”

■Kentucky — Bourke et al v. Beshear et al and Love et al v. Beshear: These two cases, argued at the same time, related to marriages performed outside of the state and whether they can be considered legal in Kentucky.

The main argument by state’s attorney Leigh Latherow was that the state’s same-sex marriage ban upholds the long-held belief that the purpose of marriage is for procreation. “Kentucky has said the perpetuation of the human race leads to stable birth rates, which in turn, leads to a stable economy,” Latherow told the judges.

The plaintiffs’ argument was made by attorney Laura Landenwich, who said, “Kentucky’s laws place a badge of inferiority on people and families” and that same-sex couples, who also are able to procreate, should get equal protection under the law.

■Tennessee — Tanco et al v. Haslam et al: This case involves three same-sex couples who are challenging their state’s law that prevents their marriages from being recognized as legal. The plaintiffs were all married in either New York or California and then had to move to Tennessee for work or for military service.

Defending the state was Joseph Whalen, Tennessee’s acting solicitor general, who said the ban should be upheld because the state has a fundamental interest in protecting children when they’re born, especially those born through unplanned pregnancies.

“The legislative intent of the state is to ensure when children are born, particularly when they are born accidentally, they are born into a stable environment, i.e. a marriage,” and since same-sex couples cannot conceive accidentally, they are not a part of the state’s goal.

Bill Harbison, the attorney for the plaintiffs, said there is no link between the state’s existing laws banning same-sex marriage and procreation and that “they don’t further procreation, they don’t hinder procreation.”
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